For fabulous family fun
Morning Make tracks to The Needles (theneedles.co.uk) where many different activities await, from a ride on a chairlift down the multi-coloured sand cliffs of Alum Bay to watching how jelly babies are made in its sweet-making demonstrations and observing the glassblowers in action.
Lunch Head to West Wight Alpacas (westwightalpacas.co.uk) in Wellow where 60 alpacas, 13 llamas and other animals including donkeys cutely await your adoring gaze, or your lead — farm walks with your own alpaca start at £14 for 20 minutes, or pre-book a trek with a llama on Tennyson Trail. Stay for lunch in its on-site restaurant, The Llama Tree, for cracking wood-fired sourdough pizzas — they even do chocolate pizza, too.
Afternoon Continue the animal theme at Tapnell Farm Park (tapnellfarmpark.com; entrance from £7.95 for children), where this former diary farm has energetically transformed itself into an impressive all-weather attraction. There’s all sorts of fun to be had here, from jumping pillows and a pedal go-kart track to wallaby walkabouts and a meerkat enclosure. Or head to Brook Beach a little further along the coast for a pre-booked fossil walk to discover dinosaur footprints with a geology expert from Dinosaur Isle (dinosaurisle.com; from £4 per child).
Evening/overnight Scoff a decent burger and chips (only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights) at The Cow (thecowco. com) at Tapnell Farm before laying your head in one its safari tents, cabins or pods for a spot of glamping. (tapnellfarm. com; from £120). Want the real thing? Then take your own tent to Compton Farm campsite, with its spacious plots marked out in a single row along a hedge in a wildflower meadow near the Island’s most stunning beach, Compton Bay (comptonfarm.co.uk; from £9 per adult, £6.50 per child).
For loved-up couples
Morning Get the trouser clips on and head to Wight Cycle Hire in Yarmouth (wightcyclehire.co.uk) and grab yourselves a Dawes Tandem for £24 per half day, before making your picturesque way along the old railway path that edges the tranquil River Yar to Freshwater Bay. Head up the hill to Farringford ( farringford.co.uk), home of Victorian England’s most famous poet, Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He lived here with his wife Emily and their two sons and wrote some of his most famous poems here, including The Lady of Shalott. Ideally, pre-book the wonderfully evocative tour of the house, £11 per person. After, lock up the bike and follow Tennyson’s footsteps with a walk up on to the Down towards his eponymous monument, where you’ll find far-reaching views over the Island and beyond.
Lunch Head back the way you came to drop the bike back, just in time for lunch at Off the Rails (offtherailsyarmouth.co.uk) next door to Wight Cycle Hire. Located in the beautifully converted former Yarmouth railway station, this vibrant café restaurant serves up slick sarnies and smart plates. Finish up with a scoop or three from the Isle of Wight Ice Cream Company at The Gossip’s Café on historic Yarmouth Pier. This local landmark is the longest wooden pier in England and has recently been given a £1m makeover.
Afternoon Spend the afternoon browsing the galleries and boutiques of Yarmouth — Bank House Antiques Emporium for something old (bankhouseantiques.co.uk), or resident painter Anne Toms’ Yarmouth Gallery for something new, much of it made by Island-based artists such as painter Julie Sajous and potter Molly Attrill (yarmouthgallery.com). For seaside chic, head to Blue by the Sea (bluebythesea.co.uk), then finish the day with a massage at the Island Wellness Spa at The West Bay Country Club (westbayclub.co.uk; from £32 for a half hour).
Evening/overnight Watch the sun go down over The Needles at The Hut in Colwell Bay (thehutcolwell.co.uk) with a lobster supper. Stay at The West Bay Country Club, which offers New England-style one-bedroom cabins (from £321 for a minimum three-night stay) or splash out on a waterfront room at The George Hotel in Yarmouth (thegeorge.co.uk; from £425 per night for a room with seaview and terrace, plus breakfast).
For seniors seeking a good time
Morning It’s a gentle stroll from the car park in the hamlet of Newtown, to the picturesque creek that is a national nature reserve famous for its birdlife. Over 200 species of birds are recorded on the Island each year, with a fair number of rarities. The National Trust (nationaltrust.org.uk) runs free bird-watching walks (see website for details), which include a visit to what must be the country’s most comfortable bird hide, with sheepskin-clad seats and regularly staffed by knowledgeable National Trust volunteers. Don’t miss Newtown Old Town Hall, which dates back to 1699 (£4.30 per adult).
Lunch Motor across the Island’s bucolic country lanestowards Shorwell, stopping by Winkle Street in the village of Calbourne to check out its picture-perfect row of 18th-century stone cottages set opposite a winding stream. Go for a pint and a ploughman’s at nearby The Crown Inn in Shorwell (characterinns.co.uk) and sit in the verdant garden, which features a freshwater trout stream and duck sanctuary.
Afternoon Head west, travelling through the village of Brighstone stopping at The Village Shop (brighstonevillageshop.co.uk) to load up with local produce, such as famous Isle of Wight tomatoes, garlic, locally-produced cheeses and artisan sourdough bread from Island Bakers, before arriving at the next village of Mottistone. Here, take a wander around Mottistone Gardens and Estate (nationaltrust.org.uk; entrance from £7.95 per person), a magical garden and an Elizabethan manor house set in a sheltered valley. Then continue west to the Dimbola Museum and Galleries (dimbola.co.uk; from £5.45 per person) in Freshwater, home of pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Here, you find displays celebrating her life and work, as well as contemporary exhibitions by photographers from around the world. Make time for a cream tea in Julia’s Tearoom.
Evening/overnight Eat beer-battered fish and chips at The Blue Crab in Yarmouth (thebluecrab.co.uk), then bed down at Norton Grange Coastal Village in Yarmouth (warnerleisurehotels.co.uk; from £96 for two nights),
an adults-only chalet village with stunning views over the Solent. Or if you fancy something more intimate try The Sunday School (airbnb.co.uk; from £160 per night), a beautiful two-bed property in a stunningly converted Methodist chapel in the centre of Yarmouth.
For mad-for-it millennials
Morning Start the day with a bowl of homemade compote, yoghurt and granola, washed down with an artisanal coffee at The Freshwater Coffee House. Then sign up for a paddleboarding lesson in Freshwater Bay with Adventure Activities Isle of Wight (adventureactivitiesisleofwight.co.uk). From £15 per person. If you’re really bitten by the paddleboarding bug, head to Freshwater Bay Paddleboard Co (freshwaterbaypaddleboards.co.uk) to check out its Island-made boards. You would rather just look the part? Then take a look at the eco-friendly, surfer dude clothing at Freshwater-based business Rapanui (rapanuiclothing.com).
Lunch The Piano Café in Freshwater (thepianocafe.co.uk) was once home to Queen Victoria’s piano tuner, but now it has a whole new vibe going on. Specialising in mezze boards topped with fresh local produce, you can also get homemade soups, wraps or burgers, plus some serious cakeage, posh hot choc and coffee made with the café’s own blend of beans.
Afternoon Take a thrilling 15-minute high-speed RIB ride around The Needles with Needles Pleasure Cruises (needlespleasurecruises.co.uk; £11 per person), which starts underneath the soaring 400ft chalk cliffs at Alum Bay, and where you’ll get up close and personal to the smugglers’ caves and the iconic rocks themselves. For those with even more daring, try a tandem paraglider flight with Wellow-based High Adventure Paragliding (highadventureparagliding.co.uk; £80 for up to three hours). It was the first UK school to teach paragliding back in the late 1980s so you’re in good hands
Evening/overnight Friday night is pizza night in Freshwater Bay during the summer months. Grab a few beers made by Island breweries at The Co-operative Food Freshwater on Afton Road (stores.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk) and then find the perfect spot on the shingle beach to watch the sunset while you wait for your Wightwood Pizza (wightwoodpizza.co.uk). Made in a wood-fired oven in a travelling converted vintage French van, it’s advisable to book online. If the weather doesn’t play ball, head to the nearby The Red Lion (redlion-freshwater.co.uk) for its brilliant gastro pub nosh. Stay in a canvas lodge with views over the River Yar in Freshwater that sleeps up to eight, complete with a fire-pit, at Glamping the Wight Way (glampingthewightway.co.uk; from £545 for a four-night midweek break). Or try Tom’s Eco Pods in Yarmouth (tomsecolodge.com; from £120 per night).